I recently moved from the Pacific Northwest to New York City, which meant I had to do more than your average spring cleaning while packing. Middle school notebooks and the skirt I wore once could not make the trek with me. This also meant cutting down on my beauty products—and if you’re anything like me, you likely have plenty of barely used products that have to go.
My biggest culprit? Bottles of lotion. I had quite the supply of gifted creams that piled up over the years, and moving gave me the motivation to finally toss the non-essentials. That left me with only one lotion each for face, body, hands, and feet. It was a tough task for someone who loves variety in her routine, but I’m happy to know that now when I reach for a bottle, it will be my favorite every time. Here are the top picks that made it onto my vanity in New York:
We’re devoted fans of all things polish in the Birchbox offices, so of course Gina Galullo’s nail polish blog, Prim and Polished, caught our eye. A lawyer-by-day and a lacquer connoisseur-by-night, Galullo posts thoughtful reviews of new shades along with colorful swatches, so even novice polish-wearers have an insider’s guide to the prettiest hues. This week, she shares the products she can’t live without, plus the work-appropriate shades you can even rock in your cubicle.
Pictured Left to Right: Skin MD Natural Sheilding Lotion, Carmex Healing Lotion and True Blue Spa Shea Cashmere Hand Cream.
Keeping with the theme of yesterday’s post, I’d like to show you some of my skincare essentials. Using lots of acetone polish removers can cause skin to dry out, so here are three hand lotions that I love which I use to keep my hands soft:
Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion is an amazing product. I discovered it when I first started blogging in 2009 and have used it religiously ever since. It has a texture unlike any other lotion I have ever used. Ingredients include aloe and dimethicone, which allows the lotion to sink into my skin leaving it moisturized, but not the least bit greasy. Plus it’s unscented and doesn’t irritate my skin. While this option is expensive and I go through it quickly, I can’t live without it.
This summer, Birchbox’s content team is extremely lucky to have awesome intern Shana in the office. She’s a student at Syracuse University (the smarty pants is a dual major in magazine journalism and psychology) and she’ll be helping with researching, writing, product testing and, of course, blogging. In addition to daily beauty news posts, she’ll be writing a weekly column called College Girl.
I learned a lot my first couple years of college—don’t wear expensive shoes to a frat party, earplugs are a must-have, oh and it snows in May in upstate New York. Because of that last tidbit, I’ve vowed to take full advantage of the sparse warm weather by wearing shorts, skirts, and anything that will expose my ghostly white skin to some UV rays. Only one downfall—all that skin bearing typically requires using a razor on a daily basis, so here are some tips for making the most out of your shave.
The Right Direction: Always shave from ankle to knee, the opposite of hair’s growth pattern. If using water, make sure it is warm to relax the hair follicles. The best technique to use is long, gliding strokes to avoid tracing the same spot twice and if you’re shaving in the shower, apply lotion immediately after you step out so your moist skin can absorb the product more efficiently.
Choose the Right Razor: I used to have a reusable razor with built-in soap until I realized that this wasn’t allowing me to get a close enough shave. Now I prefer a disposable razor with four to five blades so I can throw it out the second I notice any dullness. This also helps to prevent buildup of hair and debris that could attract germs.
Opt for Lotion: Shaving is typically part of my shower routine, but when I want to make it last or if I don’t have the time to hop in the shower, I shave sans water using Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea Lotion. It’s light so it doesn’t clog up your razor excessively (plus, you’ll be moisturizing at the same time) and you can easily see which parts of your legs you’ve already gone over. I’ve never experienced razor burn with this method—just make sure you let the lotion settle into your skin for a few seconds before you begin.
To find a lotion that works best for you, check out our Birchbox shop.
Via our Dr. Dennis Gross Facebook contest, fans submitted their most fervent skincare questions for the guru. Three lucky contestants not only received answers straight from the M.D. himself (see one fan’s query, and Dr. Gross’ advice, below), but they’re also getting free products from his coveted line!
Hydra-Pure Oil-Free Moisture, $78, dgskincare.com
Q: In the winter time, my skin gets really dry. I drink plenty of water and put on tons of lotion, but my skin still gets very flakey. What else can I do to keep my skin moisturized and protected from the cold dry climate?
—Alissa Lofredo McKenzie
Dr. Gross: Skin produces less oil in the winter due to the absence of sunlight and heat. High temperatures (during the spring and summer months) cause our bodies to produce more natural oils. This production slows in the winter, resulting in dry skin.
There is less humidity in winter air and this causes moisture to evaporate off of our skin. Warm baths and hot showers (which we are inclined to take when it’s cold) have a drying effect, plus the chlorination in our tap water is stripping. Skip hot baths and showers and choose cleansers that don’t completely strip the skin of its natural oils. Another great trick is adding bath oils to a bath.
After a shower or bath try this technique for moisturizing—keep the bathroom door closed to preserve the steam. Gently towel dry your body and apply moisturizer to skin that is saturated.
It is still important to exfoliate your skin during the winter because dry skin can clog pores, but stay away from scrub cleansers because they can be too harsh on dry skin. Remember that dry skin is out of balance and it behaves like sensitive skin so it will become easily irritated. To avoid irritation, try chemical exfoliation with products that contain gentle Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids.
Learn about Dr. Dennis Gross and shop his fantastic skincare products.
Winter is especially tough on my skin. I am prone to dryness anyway, but during the colder months, I need to moisturize a lot more frequently. I’ve tried a gazillion moisturizers and I must say, I have pretty high standards (I’ve already waxed poetic on my industrial-strength face cream, Fresh’s Creme Ancienne). And now I’m happy to say that I have a new product to add into my regular rotation: Ahava’s Dermud Intensive Nourishing Hand Cream. Mollie, our ever-diligent director of content, turned me on to this lightweight, but effective, hand cream this morning when I noticed that I had a few hangnails. (Sidenote: getting a manicure is on the agenda this weekend!) The scent is nice and delicate and the formula is enriched with Dead Sea Mud. A bonus? It has an ever-so-slight tint that adds just the littlest bit of coverage, which would be great for people who want to mask sun spots or small nicks.
What’s your go-to hand cream? How often do you use it during the day?
For a great body moisturizer, click here to buy Korres Guava Body Butter.
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